At the end of my 10-month jewelry program at Kootenay Studio Arts, my classmates and I organized a year-end show and sale in late June. This was the first time any of us had our student work displayed for the public to view and purchase. The two-day event brought in many people from Nelson and the surrounding community. I really enjoyed getting to talk about my work and passion with everyone who cared to listen. What amazed me most was how much people care about my story and why I do the things I do! I guess looking back on it now, it’s really no surprise my first sale was because of my honest retelling of a how a certain little pair of earrings came to be.
I didn't plan on ever telling customers about my disappointing failure. You see, I had this awesome design; a spinner ring with trees pierced in the band and a thin wire ring with a mountains spinning around the outside. After making a sample and consulting my peers, I said to myself, "You HAVE to make three of them in different sizes because, let's face it, everyone's going to want one!" So I set out determined to meet my goal. I worked through the steps just as I did with the sample and it was all going smoothly until I was on the final step of the last ring. I went to flare the edges and CRACK, my solder seam ripped! I can’t remember the exact details, but I'm sure I fumed, swore a little then walked away from it.
I'm a pretty stubborn person at times, so I didn't give up. I knew something could be salvaged. It was clear I didn't have a clean solder seam, so I cut the rest of it open and went to town filing and sanding it to perfection. I kid you not, when I was done with it, there was NO light trying to sneak through the seam. I made sure the ring was clean and oil free before soldering it closed once again. I even did a little sacrifice to the solder gods! I didn't really, but in hindsight maybe I should. The ring was ready to go, nothing was going to set me back and it didn't! It soldered perfectly. After a little happy dance, I went back to the bench and prepared it for the final stage once more.
You're probably wondering what I'm building up to, or have you figured it out? Did the solder seam cooperate when I flared the ring, making this a story about perseverance? Or did it snap? Well, something snapped when the ring split! It was me. I grabbed the ring, sawed open the rest of the seam and with the frustration of ten elephants I took a rawhide mallet and pounded it flat. I didn't care what happened just as long as it knew how I felt...
Once my little moment was over I took the long, tree pierced piece of silver and examined it. I thought to myself there had to be something usable in it, so I began by separating the little trees from each other with my saw. Once they were in individual pieces, it came to me. Earrings!
I quickly made two ear wires, drilled holes in the trees, assembled the pieces and tried them on. They were perfect! I was so proud of myself in that moment. I took something that appeared to be a lost cause and made in into what is now a customer favourite! Who would have known telling the story of how they came to be would lead to my first sale and get the ball rolling?